The 21-year-old hooker made an immediate impact on his debut for Scotland earlier this month when he came off the bench to play a central role and score a spectacular try in the national team’s victory over Australia, but he has struggled to command regular game time with Sale Sharks since making his debut for the English Premiership side last September.
Ashman’s arrival means there are now five hookers in the Warriors squad, although 54-times capped Fraser Brown is currently side-lined with a knee injury and not expected back this calendar year, and 19-times capped George Turner struggled with concussion earlier in the campaign and will need to be carefully managed ahead of the Six Nations kicking off at the start of February.
The other two No 2s in the squad are Grant Stewart, who has also been capped, and Johnny Matthews, who was named Warrior of the month in September and came in for special praise from Wilson yesterday for how he has taken his game to a higher level this season. Both are clearly more than capable of doing a job when called upon, but Wilson's view is that it would take only one or two strokes of bad luck for a surfeit of options to become a chronic shortage in tis specialist position.
“It’s a short-term arrangement and we’ll see how that progresses, but we can provide Ewan with the game time that he needs while also managing the rest of the squad,” said the coach.
“And when you look at the games ahead of us, we’re going to need some squad depth. The next block of games includes Europe, then the Christmas derbies, then back to Europe, plus some really big league matches. So, it is going to be a tough 10 weeks without a break.
“There’s also the Scotland angle – to have Ewan up here is a real bonus in that regard," Wilson added. “So, all parties benefit, especially him if he gets game time and is able to keep putting in the performances like he did in the autumn.”
Meanwhile, Wilson admitted that he had reservations about releasing Ryan Wilson to play for the Barbarians against Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, meaning he will miss Warriors’ return to United Rugby Championship action away to Benetton on the same day – but he ultimately took the view that the veteran back-rower has earned the right to be granted a pass on this special occasion.
“It’s tough for us as we want him to play every game for us, but we talked long and hard and he showed huge passion for wearing the Barbarians jersey and pointed out that this could be his last opportunity to do it,” he explained.
“This is a guy who played every game for us last season bar one when he went to play for Scotland against France, and he’s played every game for us this season. So, in terms of the player deserving this opportunity, you can’t really argue against it.”